Are You Watching

The great Lao Tzu (ancient Chinese philosopher, founder of Taoism, and author of the Tao Te Ching) is attributed with having written the following famous quote:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

For anyone who is seeking a logical understanding of the way to achieve better results, I know of no better method than to examine this quote in greater detail–and apply it! In a few words, simply and beautifully expressed, we are given a formula by which we can achieve our goals. The formula is concise, powerful, and effective. Please contemplate it with me for a few moments.

What Lao Tzu is basically advising us to do is to pay attention. We are to watch. We are to assume our rightful place above, or somewhat remote to, whatever is occurring. In our thinking, speaking, actions, and habits, we are to be in the place of the witness. When we live in this manner, we gain a much clearer and broader perspective. By doing so, we are living consciously; we are practicing deliberate awareness. Conversely, if we are unaware, we may be unintentionally creating negative and troubling consequences.

To live in this way is to also realize the difference between reacting and responding. When we react, we allow old neural pathways to automatically govern our actions. When we respond, we live in a manner that creates space for choice and allows new and inspired ways of being to occur. This difference can vastly change the results that we experience.

So…what do you desire? More of the same, or some of the new? Do you desire greater health? Watch. Do you desire greater wealth? Watch. Do you desire greater success? Watch. Watch from your position of the true You! In no time at all, you’ll be experiencing vastly different results in your life. Just Watch and see.

Dare to dream (and care for one another).

With heartfelt regards,


Copyright © – 2021 – R. Arthur Russell


If you enjoyed this article (originally published in December, 2021, on my personal blog), you can find more of my writing at My YouTube videos may be found through this link. May the content of either or both help you along your spiritual journey.

14 thoughts on “Are You Watching

  1. If you take the first letter of each word in this T W A H C and then rearrange them it spells WATCH, I wonder if this is a coincidence? If there is such a thing as coincidence. Thanks for sharing this Art.

    1. Hi G D,

      Thanks very much for your comment! I’m glad that you enjoyed my post!

  2. I love the difference you highlight between reacting and responding. In that space of a moment is the opportunity to change. Lovely post, Art!

    1. You’re very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment! 🙏

  3. Solid post, Art. Alan Alda talked about the differences in reacting vs. responding in his book, “If I understood you, would I have this look on my face?” Also, I think a better translation of Tzu’s idea is the word “observe.” We watch television with a casual glance. We might watch a sporting event with casual interest. Yet, we observe when the spectacle has bearing on our lives. We might carefully observe our words when we reflect on them and what they mean to others. We might carefully observe our habits if we are looking for problematic patterns that keep us from our goals. I am not intending to play semantic games or create linguistic alchemy, but words are powerful things.

    1. Thanks you very much. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I understand your point; in my opinion, it’s similar to stating the difference between “listening” and “hearing.” 🙏

      1. Yes, words are very powerful, and the thoughts behind them!

    1. Thank you, Cristiana. I’m so glad that you liked the post. I remind myself daily of applying this, too!

  4. The Tao Te Ching is one of my favorite books. How much our lives would change if we just practice objectively and intentionally examining our thoughts?

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